Friday May 24th, 2024
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Hue Artfully & Consciously Designs Inclusive Skincare for POC

With thoughtful and intentional curation, this slow skincare brand creates products with love and their audience in mind.

Mai El Mokadem

Hue Artfully & Consciously Designs Inclusive Skincare for POC

“We’re making skincare that is not people-of-colour exclusive, but is POC focused.”

Hue (Here You Exist) is a London-based skincare brand born out of necessity. While studying medicine in college, Somali/British CEO and co-founder Hani Hassan made a revealing discovery. She found that research, medical journals, and studies predominantly focused on white skin types, resulting in skincare knowledge that was inherently exclusionary. Where were the sunscreens that didn’t leave a white cast? Or those with SPF ratings not based on white skin? Where were the products addressing hyperpigmentation? None were tailored to her specific skin needs. Thus, the next logical step, driven by ambition and necessity, was to create her very own brand.

Beyond chemistry, the medical doctor knew that it was not sufficient to create only products that work, but also to create products with love. For Hue, that meant crafting products with extreme curation, and that’s where Yemeni/Lebanese creative director and co-founder Mona Haidar came in. “The visual language is the antithesis of the science-focused brand,” Haidar explains. She knew she wanted more from the beauty industry, aiming to challenge the standard of clinical and sterile image-making prevalent in skincare and science-led brands.

Instead, Haidar aimed to create visual poetry. “When we write an ingredients lookbook, we think about how the words are positioned on every single page. When we shoot an image, we try to make it as artful and expansive as possible. When we do a social media post, there’s four filters it has to go through to make sure that it fits in our world that we’ve built,” Dr. Hassan tells Scene Styled, expressing the tied, carefully-curated experience they design specifically at Hue for you.

“We didn't want our products to be like, 'hey, here’s another thing that works.'”

When it comes to product design, Haidar is extremely artful and intentional as she loves playing with the abstract versus the surreal, and the tangibility and sensation of objects. An important question to them was: how does Hue feel at different touch points and how can they ground it for all its forms - from the sensation of their products in the consumers’ hands, to the graphic design of their website, to a visual campaign that can stand the test of time. Consumers don't have to engage at every single level, but the choice is always there, “being a diverse brand means having diverse offerings for different people - for the 'get your serum and go' crowd and the enthusiasts who like to take skincare to the next level.”

Bare skin is an intimate thing. At times, going bare faced can feel akin to laying beneath a microscope. However, “that tension can be eased by love, and that’s why for our first campaign ‘Feels like Hue’, we aimed to create a safe space based around the varying modalities of love that can exist within sisterhood, motherhood, or friendship.”

Dr. Hassan and Haidar envisioned curating precious, weighty objects imbued with a sense of permanence. “Our thought process was to delve deeper than anyone else had before into every single step of the skincare process.” They envisioned creating enduring objects for beauty rituals that would persist in our households long after their initial use, and considered how this translated into their packaging. This inadvertently materialised when Haidar’s grandmother repurposed the Supra-Egg, originally designed to hold the Supra-Fade serum, to contain her bukhoor without Haidar ever informing her of its multi-functional nature. She became their reference point. The ornamental nature of Arabic households and their cultural significance inspired this line of thinking, adding another layer to the thoughtful, intentional curation behind the products and packaging.

But it doesn’t end there. There’s 'The Fang', a multi-purpose tool that serves as both a hairpin and a fashionable accessory. How was this fabulous tool born? Before reaching for the Supra-Fade serum, what do we - as consumers - typically do? The answer is simple: we pull our hair back out of the way. “We believed that this idea complements the beauty routine in a cool, playful manner,” the creative minds behind this edgy tool explained. “Our inspiration for its form came from Elsa Peretti, and how she interprets the body in a sculptural manner. The Fang’s curves echo the ribs, reflecting the anatomy.

“We realized we didn't want to make a talking point of inclusivity, but rather ask: what does it truly mean to be inclusive?” Dr. Hassan tells Scene Styled. Being a hijabi herself, Haidar commented, “I always wear it as a necklace or as an accessory in my hijab ponytail. So much of Hue exists inside the house and The Fang is an object you carry with you.”

This was just the starting point of their inclusivity. When starting their brand, they created focus groups, questionnaires, and reached out to people with accessibility needs in order to understand more about the common issues they face when using skincare. The same consensus was drawn from this research: the packaging, like tubes, pumps, and designs that require a lot of mobility. “We were able to draw conclusions on what type of packaging was more suitable for them, and that turned out to be a vacuum pump jar. It’s one of the few types you can use one-handed and can still be sterilised even after it has been opened.”

“Supra-Fade is our hero product,” Dr. Hassan reveals. “It's a one-and-done serum for hyperpigmentation.”

The founders wanted to democratise access to skincare with one super product, as opposed to the expensive 12-step skincare routines being advertised. Hue’s values consist of thoughtful consumption, as opposed to the trendy overconsumption prevalent in social media and TikTok. With 7 active ingredients and antioxidants, the Supra-Fade took some time to develop while Dr. Hassan balanced all of these active ingredients, but consumers conclude... It was worth the wait.

The founders are currently cooking up more products in the Hue kitchen, which include a ‘Barrier-building’ moisturiser, a lip product, as well as a restock of a fan-favourite multi-purpose tool…

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